A note from Jamie: When Kathreen and I discussed this guest post last summer, neither of us could have had any idea that less than a year later she and her husband would both be killed in a tragic accident.
I wanted to republish Kathreen’s words here today because I love the way her love for her children–her deepest legacy–comes across and because I’d love to encourage you to contribute a donation for her daughter Otilija and son Orlando to support them in their future and as they grieve this unimaginable loss.
One of my goals – or maybe I should say – my most important goal as a parent is to give my kids the confidence in themselves to know that they can do anything, they can achieve anything if they work at it and want it enough. This confidence in themselves doesn’t start once they leave home and have to fend for themselves, it starts right from the beginning by giving them your trust and by giving them responsibilities.
You can do this in lots of different ways: being responsible for certain chores, trusting them with important tasks, and letting them get in the kitchen to experiment, make a mess and to cook.
These things all start off small and should be age appropriate, as a parent you can gently let them have more and more responsibilities and task as they grow, building up that trust so that when they do eventually leave home to go out into the big wide world, you’ll know that you have given them all the skills they need to do well.
I have two kiddos–Otilija is now 12 and Orlando is almost 10. As a creative person who has always given my kids free reign in the kitchen and the craft supplies I am very happy to say that my kids are now competent and confident in the kitchen and elsewhere in life.
They can plan a menu and cook dinner for the family, they can research a cake recipe, check if we have the ingredients and make it from scratch, they can get up early and cook pancakes or fried eggs for breakfast – and they sometimes even clean up the mess afterwards. I am very proud of how confident they are in the kitchen and I know that these skills will transfer to other parts of their lives.
Believing that your kids are capable, competent, creative, responsible, resourceful and resilient is the way toward building a confident child and cooking is the perfect teaching tool towards this goal.
Your kids are capable.
Give them opportunities to make decisions, plan activities and make choices. In the kitchen let them plan the menu, research recipes, write the shopping list, etc.
Your kids are competent.
Teach your kids how to use tools and learn skills with respectful supervision.
In the kitchen make sure your kids know how to use and handle sharp knives, electric gadgets, the oven and the stove – once you realize that your kids are competent with these essentials you’ll be more comfortable letting them do more and they’ll grow in confidence.
Your kids are creative.
Creativity stems from freedom of thought and experimentation. In the kitchen let your children experiment with flavours, test out their theories, and explore new ideas – why not encourage them to adjust tried and true recipes – a basic cookie dough is a great starting off point.
Your kids are responsible.
Responsibility comes from trust and self-discipline. You can help your child to be responsible for their actions and decisions. In the kitchen the natural consequence of cooking is making a mess – make sure they know that they have to clean up after themselves.
Your kids are resourceful.
Realizing that your children have personal resources and experiences that they can contribute to the group/family will give them confidence in being able to express their ideas and think up interesting solutions to problems.
In the kitchen if the cream is overbeaten – turn it into butter, if the gravy is lumpy – use a sieve, if there is no buttermilk – use yogurt instead. Problem solving is an essential skill toward a confident person.
Your kids are resilient.
Some children need longer than others to think situations through, don’t rush – give them time to work through difficult or tricky problems. Let them go at their own pace surrounded by a supportive environment.
In the kitchen your child, once at the reading stage, can probably make a simple brownie or cookie recipe all by themselves — they may get frustrated and stressed and worried – but by giving them that space and time and support they’ll be able to achieve great things.
By keeping these points in mind, you’ll be able to create confident children, great cooks and creative people.
How have you enabled your kids to be confident in the kitchen?